An emu prone to escaping from its enclosures is spreading its wings and moving into a bigger animal sanctuary, thanks to a community that rallied around him.
Ralph, better known as "The Bird," has been at the Rockin' T Equine Sanctuary and Rescue in Libson Falls, Maine, for about a decade. Years ago, he was found running near Interstate 95 in Bowdoin. The animal control officer captured him and brought him to Janet Tuttle, owner of Rockin' T.
"He caused a lot of grief, I guess, running through the neighborhood," she said.
Tuttle didn't know anything about raising emus but wanted to give him a good home.
Last May, The Bird did it again. During a transport between his winter and summer enclosures, he got loose and made a run for it. He was missing for an entire day, prompting a volunteer search time to scour the woods. Eventually, he was located, lassoed, and returned to Rockin' T.
Some took it as a sign that The Bird was searching for a better life. Tuttle said several people came to her with the suggestion of transporting him to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, Georgia.
But the transport isn't cheap. The company they found would charge at least $3,000.
"At first I thought good luck with that because it's hard raising funds for the horses, but everyone stepped up," Tuttle said.
Soon, donations started flying in. They were able to raise $2,700, and the owner of East Coast Equine Transport agreed to bring The Bird to Georgia at a discounted price.
"He's been through a lot, and I just think it's a good thing to do," said Pat Thompson.
The Bird was picked up around noon Monday, and after some resistance, he eventually made it into his trailer without breaking free.
While Tuttle says it's "kind of sad" to see him go, she knows he will be in a better place... unless he decides to make a run for it again.